Australia faces Sweden in their last group game of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada and two-goal Kyah Simon says the Swedes will be a tough opponent.
Simon netted a double in Australia’s 2-0 victory over Nigeria which has set up the Matildas campaign, knowing any result will be enough to reach the knockout stage.
“Sweden are a very strong football team,” Simon told FourFourTwo.
“They have years and years of having technically gifted players and we certainly can’t take them lightly.
“They aren’t ranked fifth in the world for nothing, but in saying that they’ve got weaknesses as well and hopefully we can expose them on Tuesday night (Wednesday morning AEST).
“It’s going to be a really tough match but I’ve got full belief in our team that we can get the result.”
After initially starting on the bench for the game against the USA, the 23-year-old striker put the Matildas’ World Cup campaign back on track with her brace against the Nigerians.
“I knew in the first game I had a different role and that was to try and be an impact player off the bench,” Simon said.
“Obviously every player wants to start but everyone has a role to play in the team, whether it’s starting or being on the bench and that’s the good thing about this team, everyone puts the team first in wanting to succeed regardless of who is starting.”
Speaking about her composed finish and run in behind the defence for the opening strike, Simon credited the goal to all the lead-up work that was done by her Matildas’ strike partner.
“When Lisa De Vanna had the ball at her feet I had a feeling she was going to run at the defenders, which would obviously pull one of the centre backs out of the line and leave a hole for me behind,” she said.
“I knew I just had to make that run in behind. If she played it I would have got on the end of it like I did or I would have dragged the defender out and the goal would have been open for her, so anything could have happened.
“It was more than just wanting a goal, it was about the intentions behind it. Thankfully it paid off.”
Simon spoke about the character the team showed to get the win after the disappointment of the opening group game loss to the USA, revealing that the team had to transform its mindset, but still play with the same strategy.
“Coming off a loss is obviously difficult but you don’t have much time to dwell on it when the next game is in three or four days,” Simon said.
“It was a matter of regrouping, looking at the things we can improve on and then going into the Nigeria game focusing on us and our strengths but also some weaknesses that we can improve on from game one. And I think we did that, we tightened up our defence and finished some of our chances.
“We’ve been in somewhat of the same rhythm all year. We’ve had the same game plan and haven’t changed that since we first came into camp in January.
“I think it was more evident in the game against Nigeria because our defensive structure was tighter and I don’t think much will change for the rest of the tournament in how we want to try and play.”
During the Nigeria game fellow Matildas attacker Samantha Kerr was elbowed in the face by Nigerian defender Ugo Njoku who has now been suspended for three games.
The 21-year-old continued to play on in pain and Simon wasn’t surprised by the way Kerr reacted to the incident.
“Sam Kerr is a really tough character, and it would take something pretty bad to keep her down like that,” the Sydney FC striker said.
“It obviously wasn’t good but thankfully she is okay and I think it is a testament to how Sam Kerr conducted herself after it happened that highlighted the discipline and character in this team to not let it affect us or retaliate but rather let our football do the talking.”
Simon, the first Indigenous player to score for the Australian women’s football team, loves to represent her community, and after scoring at two consecutive Women’s World Cups, she hopes to motivate more young women like herself to one day follow in her footsteps.
“Having my family in the crowd is one thing but knowing there are so many people back home supporting me not only from the Indigenous community but also Australia in general, and seeing how much they have got behind the team is great to see,” Simon said.
“We’re breaking into the mainstream media and things like that so with more and more support that really does encourage us and shows the amount of interest Australians have for women’s football and it definitely gives me an extra sense of pride to know that I am inspiring some young indigenous girls out there.”
The 49-time Matilda emphasised the values and beliefs that coach Alen Stajcic has brought into the Matildas at this World Cup, which according to the striker has resulted in a strong team bond.
“I think off the pitch we’re a very close knit group and it’s a bit more family orientated – that’s not to say we weren’t in Germany but I think it has moved in an even more positive direction at this World Cup,” the former Boston Breaker said.
“Alen Stajcic has really presented a philosophy to us that everyone has bought into and I think we just feel really confident going into games knowing we’ve done a lot of hard work from the ground up.
“A number of the girls who were at the last World Cup are still young but have four more years of experience and I really believe that this squad can achieve great things if we play to our potential.”comments